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10.11.2020 | Original Paper Open Access

Diagnostic value of cardiovascular magnetic resonance in comparison to endomyocardial biopsy in cardiac amyloidosis: a multi-centre study

Clinical Research in Cardiology
Grigorios Chatzantonis, Michael Bietenbeck, Ahmed Elsanhoury, Carsten Tschöpe, Burkert Pieske, Gloria Tauscher, Julia Vietheer, Zornitsa Shomanova, Heiko Mahrholdt, Andreas Rolf, Sebastian Kelle, Ali Yilmaz
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00392-020-01771-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
G. Chatzantonis and M. Bietenbeck contributed equally to this work.



Cardiac amyloidosis (CA) is an infiltrative disease characterised by accumulation of amyloid deposits in the extracellular space of the myocardium—comprising transthyretin (ATTR) and light chain (AL) amyloidosis as the most frequent subtypes. Histopathological proof of amyloid deposits by endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) is the gold standard for diagnosis of CA. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) allows non-invasive workup of suspected CA. We conducted a multi-centre study to assess the diagnostic value of CMR in comparison to EMB for the diagnosis of CA.


We studied N = 160 patients characterised by symptoms of heart failure and presence of left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy of unknown origin who presented to specialised cardiomyopathy centres in Germany and underwent further diagnostic workup by both CMR and EMB. If CA was diagnosed, additional subtyping based on EMB specimens and monoclonal protein studies in serum was performed. The CMR protocol comprised cine- and late-gadolinium-enhancement (LGE)-imaging as well as native and post-contrast T1-mapping (in a subgroup)—allowing to measure extracellular volume fraction (ECV) of the myocardium.


An EMB-based diagnosis of CA was made in N = 120 patients (CA group) whereas N = 40 patients demonstrated other diagnoses (CONTROL group). In the CA group, N = 114 (95%) patients showed a characteristic pattern of LGE indicative of CA. In the CONTROL group, only 1/40 (2%) patient showed a “false-positive” LGE pattern suggestive of CA. In the CA group, there was no patient with elevated T1-/ECV-values without a characteristic pattern of LGE indicative of CA. LGE-CMR showed a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 98% for the diagnosis of CA. The combination of a characteristic LGE pattern indicating CA with unremarkable monoclonal protein studies resulted in the diagnosis of ATTR-CA (confirmed by EMB) with a specificity of 98% [95%-confidence interval (CI) 92–100%] and a positive predictive value (PPV) of 99% (95%-CI 92–100%), respectively. The EMB-associated risk of complications was 3.13% in this study—without any detrimental or persistent complications.


Non-invasive CMR shows an excellent diagnostic accuracy and yield regarding CA. When combined with monoclonal protein studies, CMR can differentiate ATTR from AL with high accuracy and predictive value. However, invasive EMB remains a safe invasive gold-standard and allows to differentiate CA from other cardiomyopathies that can also cause LV hypertrophy.

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